Cabarrus County and Harrisburg officials are moving forward with land use plans that would concentrate future development around Harrisburg's Town Center, making it the symbolic center of the town.
County and town officials held a two-day planning session last week, inviting residents to review land use plans and offer input.
The 26.5 square-mile area being examined is loosely bordered by the Mecklenburg County line to the west, Lower Rocky River Road to the south and Concord's jurisdiction to the northeast.
The plan, which is meant to look ahead as far as 2030, will serve as a tool to help local leaders make decisions about new development and school construction. The land use plan being used now was adopted in 2001.
Project Manager Meg Nealon of LandDesign, the planning firm hired by the county, said consultants have examined physical attributes of the area, as well as existing infrastructure and policies.
In order to develop the long-range plan, she said, they have to maintain a balance between locals' desire to conserve Harrisburg's small-town feel and the growing population's need for access to small-scale retail.
Susie Morris, Cabarrus County's planning and zoning manager, said officials are trying to create a community-driven plan. Harrisburg's Town Council and the county will collectively approve a final plan.
"It's not the county coming in and telling Harrisburg what to do," Morris said. "If we can get the folks who live here to agree on a plan, the town and the county shouldn't have a problem approving a plan."
About 30 business owners and residents came to a drop-in session last week to voice their concerns and offer suggestions for the plan.
Consultants created three plans as alternatives to what they identified as the area's current trends.
The first was one created by consultants before the drop-in session. The second and third plans were developed based on suggestions from residents during the session.
All three plans call for more development around the Town Center and propose medium density housing - three or more homes per acre - around that area. The plans also propose maintaining a concentration of jobs along N.C. 49.
The plans vary, however, in suggestions for residential density in the area. One plan suggests that development around flooding trouble spots near Pharr Mill Road should be slowed so as to not exacerbate the flooding problems. Another proposes that the rural area loosely bordered by Hickory Ridge Road and Lower Rocky River Road up to Reedy Creek should have slightly more development with one home per two acres up to two homes per acre.
Consultants also recommended creating more roads traveling east to west to improve traffic flow in the area, and they identified possible sites for new parks.
A land use plan won't be finalized until after a March 3 community meeting held at Harrisburg Elementary School in which residents can share their opinions about the proposed plans.
Don Smyle, who runs a licensing and media development business, Smyle Media, from his Harrisburg home, said that as more people move into town, they expect to have services closer to home. "You can't stay the way you were," Smyle said. "The real test will be if the voices and ideas are put into motion."